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Gay former Sebastopol mayor arrested on sexual assault of a minor charges

by Sari Staver

Robert Jacob. Photo: Courtesy Facebook
Robert Jacob. Photo: Courtesy Facebook  

A gay man who's the former mayor of Sebastopol and a longtime executive in the cannabis industry has been arrested and charged with five felonies and one misdemeanor related to sexual assault on a minor.

As of Sunday night, Robert Jacob, 44, was being held without bond in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Center, accused of assaulting at least one underage victim, according to a statement by Sebastopol Police Chief Kevin Kilgore. In a prepared statement, Kilgore said the alleged assaults are believed to have occurred between December 2019 and March 2021. Kilgore said the police learned of the alleged sexual assaults on March 30 and launched an investigation, culminating with Jacob's arrest April 10.

Updated On May 13, Jacob pleaded not guilty and has another hearing in June.

According to the warrant, the alleged offenses include: making a child under 16 available to another person for lewd or lascivious acts; committing such an act with a 14- or 15-year-old child; distributing harmful matter depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct; arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of exposing genitals or rectal area; and participating in sexual penetration of a child under 16.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Jacob is currently a self-employed consultant in the cannabis industry after founding the Peace and Medicine cannabis dispensary in 2007. Peace and Medicine later merged with the San Francisco dispensary chain SPARC, where Jacob served as president. SPARC's dispensary in the South of Market neighborhood was one of the first in the Bay Area to offer a smoking lounge; the dispensary closed in 2020, following a drop in business.

Jacob was elected mayor of Sebastopol in 2013 by the City Council, following his election to that body the previous year. Jacob served one term, which included a leave of absence of at least six months to deal with a family illness. He did not seek reelection.

On social media, Erich Pearson, a gay man who's the founder and chief executive officer of SPARC, posted a statement on Facebook following Jacob's arrest.

"The allegations against Robert Jacob, who has not been affiliated or associated with SPARC for several years, involve horrible and unconscionable actions," Pearson wrote. "These abuses of power have no place in our communities nor our society, and have gone on for far too long. Our hearts and support go out to the victim and their families, and we at SPARC wish to make a clear statement that we believe victims and survivors, and this behavior in no way reflects on the culture and values that we hold dear."

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, Pearson declined to give any details about Jacob's employment at SPARC and declined further comment.

A LinkedIn page under Jacob's name says he is the principal of Robert Jacob Executive Consulting, which provides services for cannabis businesses, including management, political and human relations consulting, project management, and public relations.

In a lengthy description of himself, Jacob writes on LinkedIn that he "blazed the trail for key legislative policies and business models that define the cannabis space today. Leading with business savvy and emotional intelligence, he fearlessly scales teams, revenue, and profits with a relentless eye for compliance. A skilled operator and community advocate, Robert has built retail chains from the ground up while working hand-in-hand with local leaders to ensure positive outcomes for business and community alike. Robert is known for his contagious passion, collaborative facilitation style, and capacity for inspirational leadership."

Kilgore returned a call seeking comment but said he had no further information.

Calls to the Sonoma County District Attorney's office and the Sonoma County Public Defender's office asking about Jacob's legal representation were not returned at press time.

Kilgore asked anyone with information on this case to contact the Sebastopol Police Department at (707) 829-4400 and refer to report number 21-0220.

Updated, 5/14/21: This article has been updated to indicate Robert Jacob has pleaded not guilty.

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